Trawler lights up Blackpool promenade!

On Friday 21st October, Blackpool’s illuminated Trawler 737 finally took its rightful place on illumination tour duties for the first time since completion of its recent refurbishment. Although the tram had been launched two weeks earlier, problems with its new external lights had meant that it ran with these switched off for its first public tours on 7th October, and had been confined to the workshops after this for its teething problems to be rectified.

On Monday 17th October, the Trawler was back out on the promenade with its lights glowing brightly – albeit in broad daylight and only on test. A thorough programme of test running then took place over the following few days, leading to its debut on ordinary illumination tour service at the end of the week. As well as having its lighting problems attended to, during its time in the works under attention the opportunity had also been taken to replace its multi-coloured seat fabric with more traditional green upholstery, something which had been planned to be done before the launch but time limits had prevented.

However, all eyes were very much on the external illuminations which look absolutely stunning! The tram has been adorned with approximately 3000 LEDs, in place of around 400 bulbs fitted previously – quite a difference! The lights change colours and are used to create a huge variety of different shapes and patterns, with scrolling lettering effects also used. It seems like every time the tram is photographed, it looks completely different, making this quite possibly the most stunning vehicle ever to operate on the tramway. 737 is so bright that it quite literally lights up the promenade and seeing its lights reflecting off buildings and passing trams is really a sight to behold.

Initial reactions to the Trawler’s new look have been very positive and hopefully it will continue to wow the crowds for many years to come. Of course this is largely thanks to the incredible generosity of Lofthouse’s, the makers of Fisherman’s Friend products, for their large financial donation towards the make-over, whilst an appeal from the Fylde Tramway Society helped to raise around £2000 in addition.

Naturally, the Trawler is expected to run every evening for the next two weeks until the end of the 2016 illuminations season, subject to availability, and will presumably then be available for private hires and possibly daytime heritage tour duties as required.

A series of images showing Trawler 737 at Pleasure Beach on its first night of illumination tour work, showcasing just a small sample of the many lighting settings which constantly change. (All photos by Rob Bray)

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14 Responses to Trawler lights up Blackpool promenade!

  1. Nigel Pennick says:

    That’s a real piece of travelling artwork. Congratulations to everyone who produced such a stunning creation.

  2. Louis Dobson says:

    Just out of interest, does the diamond pantograph ever cause a brief power loss as it passes under/over points? just wondering how the program would react that controls the external lighting?

    • Steve Hyde says:

      The section insulators provide a continuous path through for pantographs. There is a momentary connection between the 2 sides as it passes the overlapping runners.

      • Steve Hyde says:

        I should have added that there is also a runner alongside the overhead frog at points to ensure pantographs maintain contact.

        • Michael says:

          Does this mean that drivers no longer have to shut off power when passing under a section break?

          • Steve Hyde says:

            For trams with trolleys they will still need to shut off as there is no continuous electrical path through the section insulator for a trolley.

          • John says:

            No, we are still trained to shut off when passing breakers. You also shut off when passing through frogs, crossings and other special work in the overhead. I’m talking Heritage here – the LRTs work differently.

      • Paul says:

        Actually, the section insulator by definition most be long enough to ensure that the current collector (Pan or Trolley) can not bridge between the sections, so in actual fact there IS a momentary loss of power as the Tram passes over the breaker. On cars with low voltage systems (and some others) this is compensated for by onboard batteries that literally “keep the lights on” and in the case of the Trawler keeps the computer running.
        The reason the driver powers off through section breakers is to avoid arching either between sections or burning the isolators. Where Pan by-pass bars are fitted to a breaker, they will be insulated.
        At point work, it is slightly different, the ‘frog’ and by-pass bars can be live, but good driving practice is still to power off for reasons of control and reducing the risk of dewirement.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can’t be sure about the section insulators installed in Blackpool but I can state that those in use on Manchester Metrolink do provide a continuous electrical path through as the overlapping runners are connected to the wire on one side or the other of the insulator bar. Drivers do not shut off as they pass through unless for some reason a temporary coasting section has been instituted. The other second generation systems all use similar section insulators and I am not aware of any requirement to shut off.

          • Steve Hyde says:

            I am sorry I seem to have sent the reply above as Anonymous it should have been headed with my identity, Steve Hyde.

          • Dave says:

            The question related to Blackpool not Manchester so the correct answer to the original query is yes there is a loss of power and drivers shut off.

        • John says:

          Absolutely correct! The Blackpool overhead and practice is a curious mix of old and new by necessity! Also shutting off and coasting (at a lower speed also) through frogs and crossings reduces any risk of pan damage by hitting the bypass bars at speed. The sections are definitely longer than a pan head is wide – trust me I’ve been stuck under one!

  3. Franklyn says:

    The trawler certainly looks better now it’s got more lights on it. Just a shame they didn’t put a strip down each window pillar as used to be the tradition on the illuminated cars.

    This new LED system would definitely suit something with big flat sides. How about fitting them to a B-fleet Millennium and using them to display advertising / generate revenue? Think back to how standards 158 & 159 were retrofitted with light back in the 60s and used on normal service during the day then premium priced tours at night.

    One other question about the trawler… Are the windscreens ordinary ones from a normal Brush car fitted upside down? They certainly look like they could be.

  4. Earbashed says:

    Just called in at Rigby Road and 737 is broken again, awaiting electrical engineers, apparently the circiuts cannot cope with the amount of lights